MLB Fantasy 2023: 45 Predicted Value Picks and Draft Strategy

  • It’s finally baseball time again. Spring training is here so, per usual, us fantasy baseball heads are back searching for draft-day wins. We’ll talk about some draft strategy for 2023 first, then we’ll be looking at some players worth targeting in drafts.

    This year, these are some places I feel we can beat the crowd: With less linear bullpens, saves are back and it’ll be worth paying some in drafts for the saves-only league crowd. Catcher has always been a place to deviate from the competition. Outside of Jose Altuve and Betts- there aren’t many perceived locks at second base to finish within the top-50. Outfield has become thin in recent years. You don’t want to be stuck considering Jorge Soler as your third outfielder in August when battling injuries. Third base isn’t deep.

    “Targeting” often includes the willingness to reach for players you feel will beat ranking and/or ADP. It’s important to look at where your platform ranks its players as well as their ADPs. You don’t want to reach too far, but your own valuation matters! Do your research if you want to compete at a high level. Last season, I had to have Seager, Varsho and Wheeler. I reached in a lot of spots and was happy with the results. This year, I’m targeting Strider in my home league. I haven’t been this excited about a K category guy since Tim Lincecum. In that league’s roto settings, elite K starters are your best bet of locking in a victory in Ks due to an innings limit. It’s important to know your settings. How early is taking a guy who’s thrown 130 innings, once? I’m willing to see in this case. You’ll have to ask yourself how valuable is having J.T. Realmuto as a set-and-forget catcher that runs- that’s a dream fantasy combination.

    Punting categories in a draft doesn’t mean you’re giving them up. In fantasy baseball, there are enough roster spots to grab value in each category at some point. In a roto format, you can’t really afford to be real bad at one category to get a trophy. In head to head (10 cat), you usually need to be consistently winning at least 3 pitching cats and 3 hitting cats to contend. If you’re in big on power and not caring about average in a draft, you better target guys that also get a lot of stolen bases and hit in RBI spots. With the shift, we had seen batting average become a commodity category such as steals. This year, we very likely will see some correction with the shift going away. On the pitching side in 10 category head to head, going for WHIP, ERA and Saves (or SVs/HLDs) is one way to sway the bump side if you’re someone who prefers shorter starter volume in the draft. Maxing out on closers and non-closing relievers with elite WHIP and ERA can be a way for success (while making sure they have history of more Ks than innings pitched) along with 3-4 great starters with low WHIP and ERA.


    Players I’m Targeting in 2023 drafts:


    Zack Wheeler (SP), Yahoo Rank 55, Yahoo ADP 56

    Wheeler is ace material at a lesser cost in 2023. In 2022, he had the success, but only managed to pitch 153 innings. In his 26 starts, Wheeler had a 1.04 whip, 163 Ks, 12 wins, and a 2.82 ERA in 2022. If he stays healthy, he’s a steal. His statcast page is bloody red. His Average exit velocity, BB%, Chase Rate, xERA/xwOBA, Extension, and fastball velocity, are in the top 20th percentile. The Phillies situation is a good one for the win category.


    Nico Hoerner (SS), Yahoo 169 rank, Yahoo ADP 209

    Nico will add 2B eligibility on many platforms quickly with Swanson in town for the Cubs. Nico is being slept on in yahoo drafts so far. This might be because SS is so loaded this season and people are sleeping on Nico gaining that 2B eligibility. He’s been a solid guy to platoon in your lineup or to have on your bench so far in his time in the majors. With the 2B eligibility that he’s going to have this year in addition to his BA- (.281 in 22) and steal-upside (20 steals in 22), he should be a draft-day value in 2023. Hoerner has a 92nd percentile sprint speed on statcast, which will come in handy with the new pickoff rules. I feel raw speed will correlate to increased steals in 2023. Hitting leadoff will help.


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    Spencer Strider: (SP) Yahoo rank 21, Yahoo ADP 28

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